Amanda Flanter believes in connections. That is, connecting with every single student in her Fourth Grade class at Level Creek Elementary School on both an educational and personal level. Flanter describes this method of teaching as: “I like finding ways to connect with kids and see them actually figure something out, no matter what it is – math, science, social studies – shapes when I did preschool.”
With these connections, she has the uncanny ability to truly get to know a student. Rather than being just an ordinary teacher, she becomes their confidant during a time when children are beginning to prepare for middle school, an entirely new chapter of learning. She easily recalls details about her students and even how they learn best. Flanter reaffirms this, saying, “I’m often pushed into becoming an administrator, but I’ve decided I don’t like that. I like being in a classroom. I like connection. I like designing things for kids to do and learn with and see that end result. That’s my favorite part and that’s something I’ve learned about myself that when I’m not doing that, I’m not in a happy place. I like that connection you make in the classroom, day to day.” Flanter is very much a hands-on teacher, creating games and telling jokes that make her memorable to every student she teaches. Annabelle Kim, a current student of hers, says, “Mrs. Flanter is genuinely a fun person and always tries to make class fun.”
Even with the unpredictability of teaching young children on a daily basis, Flanter thrives in this charged environment. She says to me: “You’ve got to be flexible because every year’s different. You’re never going to repeat the same lesson twice even though you think you will. You need to go in with the mentality that you can’t have a set notion of what it’s going to be like.” Flanter talks with reverence in her voice for the students that she teaches, and they believe in her just as much as she believes in them.
Elementary school is often regarded as a stepping-stone to advanced learning, say, a golden age of nostalgia that teenagers and adults alike often look back on with crayon-marked optimism. Flanter, with her kindness and genuine joy for teaching, understands this but believes that “all students need to take ownership of their own learning.” She continues, saying, “It depends on the kid because kids come in different strengths and different weaknesses. I’ve had kids that make a big chart somewhere in their house beginning of the week that has everything mapped out so it’s a big visual for them because that’s what they need. For a child to be successful, they have to figure out what works best for them.” And with a teacher like Flanter, figuring out the way to become a successful student is definitely within reach.
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